DOGS will be allowed to swim in the Minnamurra River as part of a six-month trial which begins next week.
In July, most councillors voted to allow a six-month trial, beginning on September 1, whereby dogs can swim on-leash from Trevethan Reserve before 9am and after 5pm.
The move will go ahead despite being opposed by government agencies and council staff.
Concerns included potential environmental impacts and the site being a popular family and tourist destination.
The trial will run until February 28.
The location of the permitted area is an approximately 40-metre section of the river between the rail bridge and road bridge.
Bollards at the section of river will be painted to mark out the zone.
Dogs must remain under effective control at all times by a person over the age of 16 years.
Infringement notices will be issued for offences.
Council ranger Tom Ward said dogs were only permitted to swim on-leash in the designated area as shown by a sign erected adjacent to the boat ramp.
He urged the community to ‘‘do the right thing’’.
‘‘We’ve just got to really stress to make sure the dogs are on-leash at all times,’’ he said.
‘‘We really need to stress that even inside the area, they need to be on-leash the whole time.’’
Meanwhile, council this week resolved to permit a trial dog off-leash swimming area at the southern end of Jones Beach.
Concerns were raised that council already has eight coastal off-leash areas.
The trial starts on October 1 and will end on May 31 next year.
This period includes an evaluation of the trial and a community consultation process, as well as any serious incidents being reported to council.
Permitted usage hours are between sunrise and sunset.
Councillor Mark Way said the southern end of Jones Beach was ‘‘almost perfect and meets all the criteria’’ for an off-leash area.
‘‘South Jones Beach is an area where you don’t have a lot of people; don’t have a lot of access.
‘‘The people in that area I see as being responsible and looking after their dogs. ‘‘We do have a large retired element within the area, and quite a few of those people don’t have cars, and they can’t go to Bombo, it’s too far.”
Cr Mark Honey expressed concern for children using the playground, believing once off-leash dogs will run rampant.
“Dogs can’t read. Dogs won’t know where the line is.’’
Cr Andrew Sloan said the car park was right next to the playground.
‘‘They will be letting the dogs out of the car, right there next to the playground.
‘‘It’s an outside chance that the rangers were worried about.”
At last Monday’s public access, resident Emma Fox, who lives close to Jones Beach, said concerns focused on safety, hygiene and number of existing alternatives for dog owners.
She was concerned about safety of children at the access point and on the beach itself.
“It will only take one incident in the playground or the park for it to be a major concern… Some owners already ignore the signs, which is not particularly reassuring.”
Mrs Fox said some residents may be intimidated or may be afraid to use the beach.
Conversely, Kiama Downs resident Ian Hornsby from social group the Kiama Canine Capers supported the move.
‘‘Now they’ll have a place to go, and it’s at the end of the beach where a lot less people actually use it.
‘‘We think it can be a very positive thing; a lot of members will help ensure that it’s used correctly.’’